Art's 'Tiny' Transformation


The word ‘miniature’ conjures up kitschy images in my mind. In my Canadian hometown for instance, there’s a museum called Miniature World, which features a series of, in my opinion, melodramatic shrunken dioramas including a ‘World of Dickens’ and ‘Enchanted Valley of Castles.’ Other tacky miniature references that come to mind are miniature dogs wearing tiny clothing and.China figurines.

However, when it comes to the art world, miniature painting is something quite different, I’ve recently discovered. It’s a form that has been around for centuries around South Asia and the Middle East. And, according to Jemima Montagu, curator of the East-West Divan art exhibition that was held in Venice late last year featuring the works of contemporary artists from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, it’s experiencing something of a comeback. She told me:

‘Miniature painting is a very important tradition in the whole region, but in Pakistan it’s going through this absolutely extraordinary transformation and re-emergence.’

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She told me that this can be seen in some of the work that was featured in East-West Divan–large-scale pieces ‘that to the obvious viewer would bear no resemblance to a miniature painting,’ but that were actually heavily inspired by the traditional art form, the details, the subtlety and style.

Muhuammad Imran Qureshi from Lahore, Pakistan, is one of the artists featured and he had extensive training in the art of miniature painting at post-secondary school level. Qureshi’s recent works feature a series of gradually ‘evolving’ paintings that begin to ‘escape’ from their traditional frames–both figuratively and literally–to eventually become a far cry from the traditional format. He says that throughout his studies and career he has explored the style of miniature painting in a very personal way, trying to ‘create our own language through the same traditional medium.’

I’ve always enjoyed the deconstruction of traditional art form and am grateful to have come across this information. Now, if only somebody would artistically deconstruct Miniature World’s World’s Smallest Operational Sawmill.

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